Undergraduate Programs

RCSE is an effort by faculty and students to understand a key component of the Earth system—the linked environments of river basins, deltaic river mouths, and coastal ocean systems.  Much of our focus surrounds the nexus issue of water:  water exerts a strong control over landform evolution and ecosystem health, and is a priority human need for agriculture, industry, and health.  Our expanding academic offerings for students are based in water resources engineering—a subcategory of a traditional civil engineering education.  To the practical elements of optimal design of water control structures in river-coastal settings such as dams, jetties, levees, and floodwalls, we merge the theoretical science of the movement of water and the dissolved and particulate components that it carries (e.g., sediment, nutrients, pollutants, and d ions) that link the water cycle to the evolution of natural systems.  In the 21st century we face two emerging educational foci—climate change and the transition to green engineering where possible.  Climate change, in the form of accelerating sea level rise, changing tropical storm frequency and intensity, expanding flood-drought cycles, etc.), while have an inordinate impact on the portions of the Earth that the department studies.  Green engineering is the design, commercialization, and use of processes and products in a way that reduces pollution, promotes sustainability, and minimizes risk to human health and the environment without sacrificing economic viability and efficiency.  This involves in many cases use of engineered structures constructed without the use of hard materials (i.e., gray engineering).  An example include creating natural ridges in coastal systems constructed of sediment that are vegetated with native species and have ecosystem benefits as well as protecting from storm surges.  In this, our educational portfolio will enable students to work with diverse partners such as architects, planners, and public health professionals.

At present, RCSE offers a undergraduate minor and access to research experiences for Tulane undergraduates.  With continued departmental growth, our intention in the near future is to also offer an undergraduate major (Bachelor of Science in Engineering  [BSE] in Civil Engineering-Water Resources).  An element of this major will be to provide the educational certification needed for a student to seek a professional engineering license in the subfield of Civil Engineering-Water Resources.